Tag Archives: culture

The Harlot’s House

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Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (face enlarged)

THE HARLOT’S HOUSE

by: Oscar Wilde

E caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.

Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The “Treues Liebes Herz” of Strauss.

Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.

We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.

The took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.

Then, turning to my love, I said,
“The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.”

But she–she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.

Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.

And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.
‘The Harlot’s House’ was originally published in The Dramatic Review (April, 1885).

Lady Lilith, 1866-68 (altered 1872-73)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Oil on canvas, 38 x 33 1/2 inches
Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935

Lilith, the subject of this painting, is described in Judaic literature as the first wife of Adam. She is associated with the seduction of men and the murder of children. The depiction of women as powerful and evil temptresses was prevalent in 19th-century painting, particularly among the Pre-Raphaelites. The artist depicts Lilith as an iconic, Amazon-like female with long, flowing hair. Her languid nature is reiterated in the inclusion of the poppy in the lower right corner—the flower of opium-induced slumber.

http://www.delart.org/collections/preraph/lady_lilith.html  The Link is for the Delaware Art Museum

This is the first of my attempts to put together art, poetry, and music of the same period, in this case the late Nineteenth Century. The music is by Richard Strauss, Dance of the Seven Veils.

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A Bottomless World

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You know what I think? I think we should just get over it! Over what you say? Sex. I am so sick of it! Sex alla time ever day! I doe know. Sorry about the accent, but for some reason that just popped out of me. But sex. Why don’t we just get it out of our system. Then we can attend to the really important matters, like which combination of breakfast cereals do I want to eat this morning. So allow me to make a proposal.

Let’s all go bottomless. What do you think? I mean naked is a bit impractical, and topless is too in-your-face, you cannot avoid it. But bottomless is quite the deal. You can ignore it if you just remember not to look down. Seriously though, who is going to do that? We will be checking each other out. It’s only natural. Our curiosity would be satisfied for the most part. Men could still wonder about those breasts. And women have been short changed for too many years, now they would get the full package. Sounds fair to me. Unsanitary? Not really. The people that go on about that old canard are just afraid of sex. They think it is yucky. Ew! get that away from me! Bodily fluids are good for you. Animals understand this. Why can’t we?

I mean in this age of tattoos and body adornment, don’t you think it is a shame to cover our wonderful works of art. Show it off! Oh, nice vagina bracelet you have there! Oh thank you, and your cock ring is awesome! It’s an ice breaker!, a conversation starter. Given the overwhelming preponderance of porn on the internet today, nobody is going to be shocked by this. I mean, let’s be honest. When newscasters joke that they aren’t wearing pants, they really won’t be wearing pants! Won’t this make the delivery of news a lot more interesting?

I like my idea. And I think you do too. You may not admit it publicly, but inside you’re saying, “I’d vote for that!” So let’s do it!

Hold on! Hold on! I can hear some of you saying, you realize, of course, that all of the people we would never ever in a million years want to see bottomless, would go bottomless. Have you ever been to a nude beach? Who do you see there? One hint. You don’t see Jessica Alba. You see all the people you would rather not see naked. So how is this any different?

Excellent point! And if we follow through with this proposal I will be able to see your point even better! I recognize that there will have to be sacrifices. You can’t restrict the bottomlessness to certain people that happen to turn you on. It has to be available to everyone. But think about it! The thrill of seeing those few just might be worth the aggravation of all the rest. Besides, think of the boost to self-esteem. You’re walking along feeling a bit glum and somebody says, “that is an awesome penis you’ve got there!” It brightens up your whole day! I think I have made a good case for it, but naturally (get it? naturally!) I welcome your comments, Just put them down below. (I know how much you like to put things down below, if you get my drift) And remember! It’s all in good fun!

The Dark Knight

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I was listening to Danny Elfman’s opening credits music for the first Tim Burton Batman film, when I came across a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. A man in Oakland had been walking his tiny little eight pound terrier, when he was approached by a couple of thugs. These guys thought the Red Sox cap and red sweater meant this man belonged to a gang, and proceeded to beat the crap out of him. When the little dog, named Shadow, began barking and trying to protect his owner, the thugs stomped the little dog to death. The music swelled in my headphones as a perfect accompaniment to my rage over this gross injustice. A little dog! What threat did he pose? I wanted to kill those thugs with my bare hands. Such is the birth of Batman.

Batman has remained popular since his inception in  1939, on the eve of the Second World War, because he is us. A human being outraged by the outrageous evil in our everyday lives. His parents were gunned down senselessly, and so the young Bruce Wayne devised a way to strike fear into the hearts of such thugs. Batman appeals to the vigilante within us, but he has a code of conduct. He does not carry a gun, and avoids killing if at all possible. The genius of Batman lies in the fact that although he’s quite gothic, at least in the beginning, and today, he is a beacon of hope within the darkness in which he dwells. He has been represented in various ways throughout his career, but the dark knight is probably the most resonant, especially in today’s dark times. Batman was born in the Depression, as was Superman, and he fought for the underdog. Of course, Bruce Wayne is a rich playboy, but unlike Donald Trump, Bruce Wayne could be imagined visiting an Occupy Wall Street demonstration to offer his qualified support. The wealth was a device to enable Bruce Wayne to support himself while being Batman, and to have a very expensive Batcave lair, with an undoubtedly expensive Batmobile, Batplane, and even a Batsubmarine.

The early Batman comics, which are among my favorites, are spooky. Shadows loom large, and his cape gave Batman a spectral majesty. He was quite operatic, with the cowl and cape, and connects us with antiheroes in literature and film, such as the Phantom of the Opera. He is not an evil figure, and yet he evokes Dracula. His appearance owes a debt to the German expressionists, and stimulates a complex array of emotions, much of it subconscious. But to me, as a snot-nosed kid, he just looked cool.

Unlike Superman, Batman was vulnerable. You could easily imagine him getting killed or hurt. It wasn’t until recently with his ongoing battle with Bain, that Batman actually gets badly hurt. I had to suspend my disbelief, as a child, when Batman managed to escape from harm with bullets flying all around him. His utility belt also stretched my imagination to the breaking point. Just how much stuff is in there? Why does he always have the most improbable thing in his belt just when he needs it? Of course, I realized that comics are not logical.

  Then there is the matter of the eyes. There aren’t any!! I can recall a fairly recent Batman comic which made fun of this fact, with another character commenting on the creepiness of the white space in place of eyes. Actually it just adds to the uncanny quality of Batman. When Bruce dons the costume and cowl, he becomes a magical icon from out of our collective unconscious, and such icons don’t have eyes. All psychologists know this. It was one of the few things that Freud and Jung agreed on.

Because Batman had no special powers, he always represented us. We could put ourselves into the story much  more effectively with Batman than Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, or Wonder Woman. With them there was always a gimmick, which was fun, but with Batman you could really imagine how you would fair in that comic book world. I could learn martial arts just like Bruce did. I could manage to keep my massive cape out of the way as I engaged in fisticuffs with a bunch of loons with very poor aim.

With the Silver Age of Batman (the fifties and early sixties) he lost his original mysterious quality and become a much friendlier, but also goofier hero. The stories became much more outlandish, but as a kid I didn’t really care. The Silver Age was packed with all kinds of great characters. Never mind that you see Batman in outer space with no helmet, somehow avoiding death by suffocation. Never mind that he joined the Justice League and spent a lot of the time standing about, listening to the other superheroes discuss strategy.

  Undoubtedly one of the best things about Batman was his car. I mean, none of the other heroes had cars, didn’t need them, but Batman had the very cool Batmobile. My favorite has to be the Silver Age Batmobile, I mean the bat fin and the cowl on the front is kitsch paradise as far as I am concerned. It has that Buck Rogers 1930’s chic going for it. Seeing that awesome car barreling through the streets of Gotham is great to recreate in your imagination and I did for many years.

Batman created the car himself in 1950, and the panel above shows Robin’s reaction. Ten years ahead? You bet! Fuel-injected overdrive, bullet resistant glass, state of the art intercom, and whitewalls. It was a heavy vehicle and only someone with Batman’s strength could handle a standard transmission. Power steering? That’s for sissies!

There have been other Batmobiles since (see above) but they don’t compare to the original. In fact, what the heck is that last thing? That isn’t the Batmobile, it’s some kind of Humvee from Hell.

  There was a campy mid-sixties Batman tv show, which I didn’t particularly like as a kid. It wasn’t Batman. It was Adam West. I got involved in other things and lost track of Batman until the awesome Batman cartoons of the nineties on Cartoon Network. There had been Batman cartoons before, but Super Friends was not the kind of cartoon I craved. I never watched them. The great film treatment by Tim Burton resparked my interest in the Dark Knight. I did think Michael Keaton was miscast, but Jack Nicholson played a memorable Joker, unmatched until Heath Ledger created an equally memorable Joker. The cartoons of the nineties however managed to capture the hip quality of Batman, and the artwork was superb, matching the look of much of both the Golden and Silver Age. He became a character somewhat removed from the others, unlike the family friendly Batman of the Silver Age. He retained his dark allure, and the voice was perfect.

Batman is still going strong today, although he has become a bit too dark for my taste. I liked the grey outfit with the blue cape and the bat on the chest, both with or without the yellow oval. In the latest movie versions, and even in the comics he is becoming too macho. I don’t like the super buff transformer outfit he wears. I would like to see him become more of a human being once again.

This is not Batman. This is Adam West. This is not Robin. This is Bert Ward.

Welcome to RussellPop

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I hope to cover Mickey Mouse to Deadmau5 in this blog

Welcome to my new blog, RussellPop. I felt I should have a family friendly, non-expletive, blog that concerns the fun filled world of popular culture. I have a light, humorous side that doesn’t get enough play on my other blog. Here I have no plans to pull my heart out of my chest and display it on screen squirming and screaming and ….ok, that is for the other blog. Here I comment on music, television, movies, books, other blogs, personalities, cultural history, and very little if anything about me, myself, and I. Again, that is the other blog, russell5087. wordpress.com This is for those people who to use the overused phrase, “don’t want to go there”.

For me this is a welcome diversion from myself. While I plan to avoid the deeper waters, I will make observations that I hope are unique and interesting, unlike what you would find on most pop culture blogs. That is pretty ambitious, I know.